What was a low-key partnership on parking between Port Canaveral and two hotels has expanded to 12 hotels. And both sides say the Online Deals has been beneficial.
Port Canaveral is offering a 40 percent discount on parking to cruise passengers who stay at one of the participating hotels before their cruise.
Even with the discount, the port can benefit if it means cruise passengers are using its lots, instead of parking at off-site operations, according to David Poston, the port's director of cruise, hospitality and business development.
"We would recapture our lost revenue on parking — or, at least, some of that revenue," Poston said. "It's been working really, really well. It's a wonderful program to market."
Poston updated port commissioners on the program this week, and they were impressed by its expansion, with four more hotels added to the program in the last month.
"This is a creative partnership," Port Authority Chairman Tom Weinberg said. "This is a win-win. Our revenue improves, and, frankly, it's an advantage to the hotels," partly because the hotels don't have parking spaces filled by vehicles of people who are on a cruise.
Jim Underwood, managing partner of the Fairfield Inn & Suites by Marriott in Melbourne and Titusville, said the program has been "a great program for us. Our guests love it, and we get a lot of good comments. It's been a real good drawing card for us."
On Friday, for example, occupants of six rooms at Underwood's Titusville hotel took advantage of the program.
Underwood said he also already has gotten repeat business through the program, which his hotels began in April.
Port Canaveral charges $60 for those taking a three-day cruise, but the parking fee is reduced to $36 for guests staying at participating hotels.
For a seven-day cruise, the $120 parking fee drops to $72.
Poston said the program has generated more than $310,000 to the port in added parking revenue so far.
As a bonus, Poston said, the port is able to gather general data on cruise passengers using the program, such as the ZIP code of their residence, to help determine the port's customer base and devise marketing strategies for the port.
Poston said, in addition to Florida, the greatest number of cruise passengers using the program are coming from Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Ohio and Alabama.